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Volume 24 No. 197
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Widespread Protests Not Expected In NBA; Players Focusing On Off-Court Initiatives

It is possible some NBA players might kneel during the national anthem when the regular season starts tonight -- either to "raise continued awareness for racial injustice or to oppose the actions of President Trump -- it’s unlikely we’ll see a widespread movement that’s anywhere near the level of what’s happened in the NFL," according to Sam Amick of USA TODAY. A main reason for that is that players are "maximizing the power of their platforms off the court during this divisive time." Warriors G Stephen Curry said, "A lot has been said about how the NBA guys -- and definitely the case in the NFL, too -- are actually doing stuff on the back end and using their platforms and their connections and their networks and money to (make a difference). … The attention needs to be on that and how that’s impacting the community as opposed to 130 guys kneeling in the NFL. That’s great, but this is the stuff that matters and this is the stuff that can actually move the needle when it comes to impacting the next generation.” Amick notes when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver chose during a board of governor’s news conference Sept. 28 to "highlight a league rule that says players must stand for the anthem," and when Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum "followed with a memo to teams reminding them of the rule, it sent a surprising message that seemed to run counter to the league’s longstanding ethos." However, while there was "grumbling from players behind the scenes about the curious way in which the anthem rule reminders came from the league office, there was no public backlash." Mavericks F Harrison Barnes: "I hope that we continue to talk about police brutality, systematic oppression, racism, that we continue to have these conversations. When you look at why Kaepernick took the knee, it was to bring attention to a topic, to have that conversation. Now whether or not we’ve truly had that conversation, or if it’s been more about the anthem or the protests or now Trump jumping on that bandwagon, it’s still up in the air" (USA TODAY, 10/17).

WHAT WILL SILVER DO? THE VERTICAL's Chris Mannix wrote Silver "had a chance to offer a progressive position on anthem protests weeks ago, and he blew it." Silver declared that he "expected players to stand for the anthem" -- effectively, even if unintentionally, "drawing a line in the sand in doing it." Who knows if this is "Silver’s position or that of the predominantly white owners he works for?" Silver was "lampooned on 'SNL' and saw his reputation erode among the rank-and-file." Mannix: "Make no mistake: A player kneels, and it’s armageddon." But the NBA "needs to be prepared for it." How Silver responds will be a "defining moment in his time as commissioner." The NFL was "ham-handed in its handling of anthem protests." The NBA, if it comes to it, "shouldn’t be" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/16).